Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dec21-27

S: 22,700 yds
B: 4h 50min
R: 4h 31min

Total: 15h 19min

Pretty awesome week with lots of good food, sleeping, and relaxing.

The highlight was, without a doubt, Christmas Day. After being awoken before dawn by a 7 year old anxious to open presents, I only had one gift to open. Because of this, I was on breakfast duty. Being Christmas, there was no fooling around, so I was tasked to make blueberry jelly stuffed pancakes on Sarah's new Ebelskiver Filled-Pancake Pan. While prepping the batter took a bit more work than traditional pancakes and cooking them was especially a pain, the extra work was well worth it. The cakes were crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, with the jelly providing a nice surprise.

After a little relaxing with coffee, it was time to GTWD. Despite a little snow and 25+ MPH winds, I got in a nice easy 12, running an out and back on a road through the middle of no where. Although the weather made it tough to get out the door, once I got going it was actually quite exhilarating. Despite the wind, I got into a nice grove and didnt seem to notice how cold my hands and arms were until I finished and jumped in the warm shower.

Waiting for me upon arrival was an irish coffee (coffee, Jameson, brown sugar, and whipped cream) followed by a Christmas feast of beef tenderloin, mashed cauliflower, and sauteed balsamic carrots. Good stuff!

Monday, December 21, 2009

QOTD

“I could have run for second but I raced to win. That’s the point.” -Dathan Ritzenhein

Mr. Ritzenhein was named DyeStat's Boy Cross Country Athlete of the Decade and in conjunction with the honor Matt McCue had a nice profile of him posted on DyeStat. Mr. McCue did a nice job pointing out Mr. Ritzenhein's strengths while also exposing training techniques he is employing to continually improve. Overall though, the article emphasizes Mr. Ritzenhein's inscrutable work ethic, leaving no question about the reason for his success.

Dec14-20

S: 22,900 yds
B: 4h 35min
R: 4h 55min

Total: 15h 32min

I was trying to figure out why I've been much less tired during the last couple of weeks than usual. Then I realized it probably has something to do with the difference of training 14-15h a week to training 21-24h a week.

In other news, I ran the Rudolph Run 5k Saturday in downtown. The turnout was great and even though it rained the night before and was overcast during the race, the rain seemed to hold for the few hours around the event which made for a nice morning. I ran 16:30 including a short stop after my shoe came untied about half a mile into the race. It was a fun morning and I was pleased with how I felt.

That evening was the Fleet Feet Christmas Party. The "redneck" theme made for some pretty hilarious costumes and copious amounts of cheap beer. There was also karaoke, so yeah... that happened...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting out of dodge

So yeah, Bruce, that happened...

I know its been a couple of weeks since Florida was steamrolled by the Alabama but I am still reminded of it by cooworkers on an almost daily basis. Unfortunately (who am i kidding... fortunately) I was not able to watch the defense do their best imitation of this year's spectacular unit from Florida State. I also missed another remarkably mediocre effort from the offense lead by the clueless Steve Addazio. To make matters worse, I was in Birmingham for the slaughter, a scant 45 miles north of Tuscaloosa and a town so overflowing with crimson, it makes the battlefield at Gettysburg look green.

While the density and shear volume of toilet paper and detergent toting fans is marginally lower here in Huntsville, it is still higher than any sane person should have to tolerate. Therefore, in order to alleviate my pain, I've decided to head out to Maui, HI, on Jan 10th for an entirely different kind of suffering. This will be a physical beating rather than the emotional anguish I've had to deal with here as I'll be attempting to not embarrass myself too much in front of Simon, Paulo, and the Canadian National Team.

Oh, and did I mention I'll be in Hawaii??? I better not forget my bathing suit!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dec7-13

S: 22,200 yds
B: 4h 47min
R: 3h 56min

Total: 14h 34min

The first week back was pretty low key and not surprisingly, I felt pretty good. Of course that should be expected when there was only a little over 14h on the schedule, most of which was pretty laid back.

If only I could get by all year with this much training (both in terms of time and intensity)...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PB&J Kale

Ingredients:
1 bunch Kale, Swiss Chard, or Collard Greens
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbls EVOO
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tbls peanut butter (creamy works but crunchy is preferred)
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup water

Warm the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat while chopping the onion and kale and mincing the garlic.

Add the onion and saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the garlic and wait a couple more.

Through the salt, coriander, and cumin into the party and wait another minute.

Increase the temperature to med-high and then add the greens and the water, stirring the greens to distribute the onion, garlic, and spices.

Once the greens are sufficiently cooked (8-10 minutes depending on the type of green used and how well you like them cooked) pour in the raisins and peanut butter. Mix well to distribute the peanut butter evenly (this make take a minute or two. If you usually keep your PB refrigerated, I'd recommend letting it come to RT before adding).

Finally, enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nov30-Dec6

S: 21,400yds
B: 2h 47min
R: 3h 36min

Total: 12h 1min

Well, that was fun. Vacation is over and now its back to work this week.

After what was all in all a pretty consistent 2009 season, I'm looking forward to really focusing on a few the details in order to step it up to the next level next year.

The race schedule still needs to be finalized but I already have a pretty good idea of where I'll be racing.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

QOTD

"I tell our coaches all the time, 'Let's not act surprised. These guys are gifted athletes; that's their job. I don't want every four-yard play to be, Ohmygod!" -Urban Meyer

Tomorrow is, of course, the day of the biggest game in the history of forever. Well, since last year, at least. However, rather than linking the numerous articles over-hyping this cataclysmic match-up which has been brewing since the beginning of the season (or even since the end of last year's epic), I'm just posting a quote from Mr. Meyer from an excellent profile of him in SI. I was most impressed with the way Mr. Meyer adapted successful methods from a number of different types of head coaches he worked under to mold his own philosophy, both on and off the field. All in all, its easy to see why the Gators have been so successful the since 2005.

To Whom It May Concern...

Dear Friend Who Is Thinking About Getting Married,

You are, no doubt, looking forward to your wedding day with great anticipation. Regardless of age, this is likely a fairly monumental event which you will remember (good or bad) for the rest of your life. Additionally, leading up to the big day, you and your fiance likely will have devoted immeasurable amounts of time, energy, and money to insure you have your perfect moment. Because this day will be so joyous, you will want to spend it with as many of your closest friends and relatives as possible and you'd like each and every one of them to have a delightful experience as well.

So please, whatever you do, make sure you consult the calendar BEFORE finalizing the date for your wedding. If you plan to celebrate matrimony in the late winter, spring, or summer, this isnt much of an issue. (In fact, these dates are encouraged. I hear spring in Birmingham is lovely.) On the other hand, if you are are forced into the fall/early winter timeframe due to other constraints, have plenty of foresight. More specifically, do NOT choose a date coinciding with the de facto college football national championship game! Especially when you are getting married in Birmingham, Alabama and you (or your fiance) actually attended one of the schools competing in said game! Not to mention that the team from your alma mater has the best defense in the country and TEBOW, who is quite possibly the single greatest college football player of all time! This may be acceptable out in whackoland but it is most assuredly not here in the South.

If all else fails and you absolutely have to have the wedding that day, at least make the ceremony in the morning when you know the game will not be played. (As opposed to oh, I dont know, 4:30 in the afternoon...)

Just something to think about.

Yours Truly,

Andrew

This is in no way related to actual events. I mean, its not like I'm attending a wedding at 4:30 on Saturday in Birmingham in which the groom will be a friend of mine who I know from UF. And its not like SEC Championship Game, pitting #1 Florida vs #2 Alabama, is this Saturday starting at 3PM (Central). I mean really, who would do such a thing??? Oh wait.........

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nov23-29

S: 13,000 yds
B: 1h 53min
R: 3h 9min
Golf: 18 holes
Basketball: 3 full court games
Football watched: ~12h

Total: 8h 27min

Another nice, relaxing week off. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I really enjoyed mine down in Ocala, FL with around 40 relatives from my mom's side of the family. I ate a lot and was also roped into numerous sporting events with uncles and cousins.

I was especially proud of myself, though, on Friday. For the first time ever I went for a run after having a couple of beers. Up to that point I had made a point to get all workouts done before commencing alcohol consumption but with a 7:15 AM tee time, running before golf just wasnt happening. So after a couple of ice cold Budweisers on the back nine, I returned home from golf and went out for an easy 50min before the Iron Bowl kicked off at 2:30. While it ended up being not quite as bad as I had anticipated, I dont plan on making this a regular occurence.

Looking ahead, this week will be another down week before we get back to business and begin the prep for 2010. In the meantime, I'll be getting my race schedule together and enjoying some more stress-free workouts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

QOTD

"Life is precious. Do something that is optimistic—that is good for society. Don't sit on the couch." -Meb Keflezighi

Nov16-22

S: 7500 yds
B: 0
R: 2h 23min

Total: 4h 21min

Huge, I know. The highlight of the week was, without a doubt, waking up Sunday morning and NOT having to go out for a hard ride... especially because it was 50F and raining! Needless to say, drinking coffee and reading the paper was much more enjoyable.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Various Definitions of Success

After my race in Clearwater and subsequent race report, I’ve received a lot of comments congratulating me on my great time even if I was a bit disappointed with my race. I really appreciate the support and positive spin on the outcome. I’m a (generally) optimistic person so I too like to look at the bright side of situations. However, I also like to be realistic in performance evaluations and sometimes the result of the evaluation is independent of the absolute time.

More often than not, finishing time can be used as a metric of success in a triathlon. Whether it is time (running), length (long jump), or height (pole vault), many individual sports provide quantitative results at the end of competitions and I believe this is one of the reasons triathlons and running races are so popular. Because each individual is given a quantified measure of her performance independent of all other competitors, she can set a goal and achieve it. She would consider this a successful performance regardless of what anyone else does.

This is a direct dichotomy, however, to team sports in which success is binary, a team either wins or loses. “Keeping it close” might help make teammates feel better about themselves but ultimately, in the words of Herm Edwards, “We play to WIN the GAME!” A loss is a loss and a win is a win.

Similarly, my goal in Clearwater was not based on a time independent of other competitors but on a place and was therefore inherently relative to other competitors. In that respect, then, the race was not successful, as I didn’t meet my goal. Absolute time wasn’t really an issue. Rather relative time, the minute lost in the water, was the main culprit for the lack of success. In this race it was imperative for me to be out of the water and on to the bike with the group. Admittedly the margin for error was (relatively) small but that is part of the risk associated with racing competitively. As my graduate school adviser, Rob Kelly, used to say, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” I knew going into the race that I would have to have a good swim to give myself a chance for a good finish, so when I didn’t, I was disappointed and am still not pleased with the outcome of the race.

With all that having been said, this does not mean I never strive to achieve a time goal. For example, one day I plan on running a marathon and when I do so I’ll likely want to do a “big city” marathon and have a time goal in mind. If I meet that time, I’ll be pleased, regardless of how many people beat me. Additionally, it is great when someone determines a time goal for a triathlon, does a long training block, and meets or exceeds it.

While I’m focusing on racing triathlons professionally, however, the metric upon which success is determined is a bit different and by “falling back” on a fast time I would just be cheating myself.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly... 70.3 WC RR

The Good: The time... “PR” of 3:53:34.

The Bad: The place. 46th, even out of 80 pros at the World Championships, is just disappointing.

The Ugly: The swim, more specifically the first 1k. I’m not sure when it actually happened (and this is part of the problem) but whenever I lost touch of the group, my race was effectively over.

Saturday morning began with… a lot of waiting. The race officials had decided on Friday to move the swim from the Gulf of Mexico to the intercoastal waterway on the other side of the peninsula due to moderately choppy water conditions. This only moved the race start a few blocks but the result was that it was now only about ¼ of a mile from the condo in which Bruce G, Chris T, and I were staying. So after eating breakfast I had plenty of time to sit around and wait before strolling over to transition.

Once there, everything went more or less according to plan. Gels on bike, tires pumped, shoes on pedals, yada, yada, yada. After finishing my prep, I pulled on my full body condom (aka wetsuit) and jumped feet first into the shallow water. I had time for a few minutes of warm up so I tried get loosened up as much as possible before the start. Soon enough, though, it was time for the National Anthem and the start of the women's race. Thats right, another last minute change was made to send the women off 8 minutes ahead of the men.

In the words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. As it turns out, though, 8 minutes turned into 7:30 of waiting, then 20 sec of dogpaddling, then 10 sec of aggressive dogpaddling, then the start. With no well-defined start line or even an official there to hold us back, people started getting antsy a little early and started creeping forward. Before you knew it, people were screaming at others to get back while still moving forward. Finally though the horn sounded and the madness ensued.

Initially I was hanging in, swimming as fast as I could, getting bumped around, and trying not to swallow too much water. A couple of times I had to slightly adjust course to head towards what I perceived to be a group but after 4 or 5 minutes, I felt like things were starting to string out and found some feet. A bit later, all of the sudden I’m feeling the bottom and am forced to jump up and do some dolphin dives as the water was only a couple of feet deep (thanks for moving the swim, WTC!). I caught back up to the person in front of me and made it out to the first turn thinking I was still part of a pretty large group.

After making the turn, however, I realized this was not the case. There were two people in front of me, but no one in front of them. I passed them, made the second turn to come back into shore, and then saw no one ahead of me (thus, The Ugly). A little over half way through the swim and there was already a significant gap between me and a number of the other competitors. The only thing that I wasn’t sure about was exactly how many people were “up the water.”

I swam hard alone for the rest of the swim and entered transition to see a plethora of guys grabbing their bikes and heading out. Unfortunately though by the time I got around to my bike all of them had left and the population of pro bikes remaining on the racks was severely depleted. While it was certainly disappointing, there was nothing I could do about it so I set out on my bike ready to ride hard.

The bike was uneventful. Outside of passing a few pro women, I rode by myself the whole way for a 2:10:35.

The run was similarly lonely as I made my way through the pro women and then AGers on the second lap. It was hard, I was hurting, but I wasn’t racing, I was time trialing. And this is supposed to be a race report. Time: 1:15:17.

In the end, that is really what it comes down to. In order to give myslef a chance to race on a regular basis I need step up the swimming another notch to be consistently right there with the top group of guys. Otherwise I might as well just stay at home and do time trials once an month and pat myself on the back after having a few good splits.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nov2-8

S: 29,000 yds
B: 7h 49min
R: 2h 50min

Total: 18h 17min

The schedule for this week is entitled, "Andrew_50" which means its been 50 straight weeks of schedules and that means one thing.... its time for Clearwater! I felt pretty good last week and with taper in full effect, everything is looking good for this weekend.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Seared Salmon w/ Rapini

I havent done a food post in a while so it seemed about time for one. Upon pick-up of my CSA share yesterday I noticed two large bunches of greens overflowing from the box. My site coordinator instructed me they were Rapini, also known as Broccoli Rabe.

Not having made Rapini before, I set off to scour the World Wide Web a recipe. Seconds later, Rachel Ray came to the rescue with this gem. The recipe is classic RR... EVOO, garlic, and chicken stock, and was ready (prep included) in about 20 minutes.

As for the protein, I hadnt had salmon in a while so I swung by Publix and picked up a nice filet. Tired of my default preparation (baked with a generous layer of pesto on top) I went instead with a soy sauce, coriander, and garlic marinade and then seared it in coconut oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes per side. This made the kitchen a smoky, garlicy mess but resulted in a delicious piece of fish.

The result:

Monday, November 2, 2009

QOTD

"We're in a high-performance league, and if you don't perform, things happen.'' -Miami Dolphins wide out and kick returner Ted Ginn Jr. Ginn was taken out of the starting lineup of yesterday's game after dropping two easy passes the previous week. This week, he decided to PERFORM, returning two kicks the length of the field to help the Dolphins beat the Jets. Althought the Dolphins were dominated on offense and defense, they managed to pull out the 'W' thanks to the herculean effort on special teams from Ginn. (Incidentally, I cant believe I just quoted a football player from Ohio St but the quote was just too good to pass up...)

Oct26-Nov1

S: 24,800 yds
B: 10h
R: 5h 34min

Total: 22h 6min

Whew... good to have that one out of the way! Despite the high volume and intensity of last week's workouts, I was holding everything together and feeling OK until yesterday afternoon when it all seemed to catch up to me in the middle of a 3h Zn2 ride. Zone 2 shouldnt have been that painful but sometimes it happens.

All in all though I'm really pleased with where the fitness levels are in all three sports and I'm more than ready to begin tapering for Clearwater. Should be a beatdown!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Autumn/Winter CSA

Summer is sadly well past and along with the change of seasons came the end of the Doe Run Farm Summer CSA. It stands to reckon, then, that the plethora of fresh, tasty, local fruits and veggies would cease as well. In the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast!" This year, in addition to the Summer CSA, I signed up for the Autumn/Winter version as well. At 8 weeks instead of 12, it is a bit shorter but the price per week remains the same. And as you can see from below, there is no shortage in quantity or quality of goodies per week!

Below are the contents from my week 3 box which I picked up last night. So far this season my favorite item has been the bell peppers. It is amazing how much more flavor they have than those I typically buy at Publix. This week, as you can see, they were all green but the last couple of weeks I've received some red and yellow ones as well.

Overview:


And close-ups:





Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oct19-25

S: 23,700yds
B: 9h 34min
R: 5h 15min

Total: 21h 3min

Whoomp, there it is. Looking forward to the beatdown in less than three weeks!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TEBOW on Attitude

"We were just fighting tooth and nail with everything we had to make that last play, make that last stop. At the end of the game, we were doing everything we could to win that game... We were not going to be stopped. We were going to get in field-goal range to put Sturgis in a position to make that. That was his attitude on that play. That was our coaches' attitude in believing in us." -Tim Tebow describing his mindset when the Gators got the ball in the forth quarter tied at 20 with Arkansas.

Whether its football, triathlon, or ping-pong, the first step towards success is believing in yourself and knowing you can succeed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oct12-18

S: 28,800yds
B: 10h 10min
R: 5h 34min

Total: 23h 19min

So yeah... this weekend it got reallly cold here and it reminded me why triathlon season is during the summer. Biking when it is 48F and overcast with 15-25mph winds is just NOT fun at all. Neither is finishing a 3h ride on the trainer. While the weather in Clearwater for the 70.3 World Championships has been awesome since its inception in 2006, the second weekend of November is just too late to have it, IMHO. Couldnt it be moved to a week or even two after Kona?

OK, enough of the complaining. Just a couple more solid weeks then its taper time!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oct5-11

S: 28,100 yds
B: 7h 32min
R: 4h 17min

Total: 19h 13min

Happy (belated) Columbus Day! In celebration of the Spanish conquistador's discovery of the "New World" the Federal Government decided its employees should stay home. So rather than going to the office I worked out three times, napped, and watched the Dolphins beat down the Jets.

Training last week was mediocre but was highlighted by the Monte Sano 15k on Saturday morning. Here in town there were overcast skies and the temp was in the low 60s on the morning of the race but up on the mountain at the race site it was more like high 50s. Additionally, being up on the mountain in the morning with the high humidity made it feel like we were running through the clouds. Fine by me, as cool and humid are ideal conditions as far as I'm concerned. By the time the gun went off, I was ready to go, just to be able to warm up some!

I wanted a decent time so I took off from the gun and was all alone after the first 400m. Not much changed from there out as I maintained a solid but comfortable pace the rest of the way, finishing in 51:30 and winning by a few minutes. It would've been nice to have more of a race but I felt great and was pleased with my time so I cant really complain.

Full results here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekend Update

There are a plethora of exciting events this weekend both locally and nationally, beginning Saturday morning here in Huntsville with the Monte Sano 15k. As long as it doesnt rain too much, I'm hoping to have a pretty good race. The course isnt the fastest but hopefully I can at least beat my time from last year if not notch a new PR. 400s on the track in my new Puma flats felt great on Wednesday evening, so we'll see how it goes.

After that, the aforementioned impending rain storms should make for a perfect football viewing Saturday. The fun kicks off with Auburn at Arkansas at 11 Central followed by Alabama at Mississippi at 2:30C. Auburn-Arkansas should look like a basketball game while Alabama-Ole Miss has the potential to be a great game if Jevan Snead can remember how to play quarterback. I like Auburn in the early game but am looking for a Houston Nutt upset special in the afternoon.

While those games are being contested, there will also be a little triathlon out in Hawaii that I'll likely follow online. Its Ironman Hawaii, and if you're into that kind of thing (Ironmans, that is) then its kind of a big deal. I like Craig A and Chrissie W for the men's and women's titles, respectively and will be pulling for Timex teammates Jackie A, Mike L, Tim H, THE SERGIO and Cindi B to kick some ass out there.

The big event, though, kicks off a bit after 7CDT over in Baton Rouge as #1 ranked Florida visits #4 (over)ranked LSU. As if the #1-#4 matchup at night in Baton Rouge between the two teams that have won the last 3 national titles wasnt enough, there is this other tiny side story. Florida's quarterback, Tim Tebow, (maybe you've heard of him?) got a concussion in Florida's last game and his status is still up in the air. The decision regarding whether or not Tebow can play will be up to University of Florida physicians. The more intriging question, however, is whether or not Tebow should play. For an utterly thorough analysis, check out Dan Shanoff's TimTeblog which in addition to original insight, contains links to just about everything written about the subject. Personally I think John Brantley, Florida's back QB out of Trinity Catholic HS in Ocala, FL, will start and play OK, keeping the game close until the forth quarter. At that time, Tebow pull a Willis Reed and enter the game, lead the Gators on a winning TD drive, and add to his already ridiculous legacy.

Finally, Sunday morning will be the Chicago Marathon where there is a chance we'll see a new WR. LetsRun has their typical thorough preview and there will be live commentary on the Science of Sport as well. I think Sammy W will win but will be off the WR due to poor pacing. Pacing is where Geb excels and a main reason why he is current record holder. I'll also be hoping local standout Emily H can break 2:50. DO IT!

So there you go... enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Incentives and asymmetric information

So rather than harping on the many problems with the health care system, here is one company that has found a solution. While the rest of the country has seen health care costs spiraling out of control, Safeway has kept their costs flat for the last five years. The catch? Incentives, of course! Safeway gives discounts, in the form of lower premiums, to non smokers, those who have a BMI lower than 30, and those who meet other "healthy" guidelines. Full story here.

Why does this work? Economists will tell you one of the problems with the health care system is that of asymmetric information similar to the problem facing potential buyers of used cars. The issue is that one side (the insured) has all the information while the other side (the insurance company) has none (or very little). Therefore, in the case of health insurance, the insurance company must assume everyone is at a baseline, "average" level in order to mitigate risk and because it has no way of telling if one person has a better chance of costing more than another. What Safeway has done, on the other hand, has given its insurance company additional information about the people it is insuring. This allows those that are healthier, and therefore lower risk, to be charged less while those who are higher risk are charged more.

Naturally, the counter argument to this is that this is essentially a tax on those who are deemed "unhealthy". However, this is where the incentives kick in... they are determined by indicators that individuals have control over. Want to smoke? Fine, but you'll have to pay more for that privilege. Want to eat junk all day? Thats OK, too, Safeway's CEO will tell you, but you'll have to pay the price.

Free markets work effeciently only when both parties are privy to the same amount of information. Additionally, healthier people are cheaper to insure. Combining these principles, as Safeway has done, leads to cheaper, equally effective, health care.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sept28-Oct4

S: 18,100 yds
B: 8h 27min
R: 4h 14min

Total: 17h 27min

Slightly lighter volume this week thanks to the day off (shocking, I know!) early in the week. By the end of the week though things were back in full swing as the final push for Clearwater begins. Unfortunately, as usual this corresponds with football season which may require some creative scheduling in order to get in both football viewing along with training but thats just the way it goes...

Monday, September 28, 2009

What happened?

I’m not sure either but I’ll try to shed some light on it...

Augusta, GA- At 7:28 without the luxury of a warm up we, the male pros, were lined up on a floating dock in preparation for our 7:30 start time. The horn sounded and we all dove head first into the water, even Mike C.

I’ve been working on my start so I was encouraged to seemingly still be in the thick of things after the first minute. So while in the thick of things, I got knocked pretty good in the side of my head a couple of minutes later. Luckily the punch landed squarely on the side of my skull, keeping my goggles perfectly intact. Finally, about halfway through I moved around Victor Z and settled into what appeared to be a reasonable sized group. I wasn’t sure how far ahead the leaders were but I wasn’t going to be able to pass this group so my goal was to hang in for the rest of the swim.

Coming out of the water, I noticed some seriously fast swimmers in transition and was pleased to be finishing the swim in the same ballpark as them. Before I could get out onto the bike, however, I had to get my AquaSphere speedsuit off. As Tim Hola mentioned, this thing is fast. I’ve raced in it a couple of times and had no trouble getting it unzipped but for some reason this time it just wouldn’t come undone. Luckily, however, teammate James Cotter was running up the chute with me and gave me a hand. That was HUGE… thanks James! With the speedsuit off, I was in and out of transition and ready for the bike.

As I started the ride, I was ready for people to catch me (thanks to the good swim) and was hopeful I’d be able to stay with them because 56 miles by yourself just isn’t too much fun. However, as people and small groups started catching me, I felt like I was in a Pinto while everyone else was driving a Porsche. Eventually I just had to settle down and ride my race. I always remember that my HSCC coach used to harp on the fact that that you couldn’t control what other people are doing. So I tried to focus on my own race and ride hard. This, however, was really frustrating because even though the speed wasnt there, my PowerTap was telling me I was having a very solid ride. Unfortunately though, excuses are worth about as much as the change in my pocket and awards are not given out based on power numbers (good thing, too!).

So after exiting the swim in 11th, I found myself 17th on my way into T2. Sarah, meanwhile, was wondering what the hell took me so long.

Finally I was out on the run. No equipment to worry about here… just put on the shoes and GO! After the disappointing ride, I was hoping to at least salvage a decent finish with a fast run. The first mile came and went in just under 5:50 and after that I started cranking, holding right in the 5:40-5:45 range. I felt solid the whole time, even when it started heating up, and had enough left to catch a couple of guys in the last mile and finish 13th overall. Full results can be found here.

So yeah, good swim, good run, need to find WTF happened with the bike. But enough about the race. What is more important is the food on the way home! A couple of weeks ago, Hola, after dominating the LC National Championship, had a burger on the way home for me. While I appreciate the gesture, if you're going to get a burger, get a burger. So rather than settling for this at McDonalds:


we went for the Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta. I had bacon cheeseburger:

while Sarah had the crab cake:

Oh, and we split an order of vodka battered onion rings and an order of butternut squash fingers:

Finally though, to top it all off...


A Nutella + burnt marshmallow liquid nitrogen milkshake. Awesome!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

QOTD

"But the quickest way for U.S. athletes to get good is that they have to run a lot. They have to run aerobically at high intensity and have quite a lot of accumulated mileage. That is the only way we are going to catch up to the Africans, because they are so far ahead of us. So it’s got to be large volume, but not just that; it has to be long, hard stuff that raises threshold."-Brad Hudson, former coach of Dathan Ritzenhein responding to a question about whether Ritz's marathon training led to his recent breakthrough 5k PR.

I havent read Run Faster, Hudson's book, but I really like this quote because it emphasizes the same principles that Jack Daniels recommends in his bible, Daniels' Running Formula. Namely, lots of work around your "threshold" or maximum lactate steady state (MLSS) is the best way to improve fitness. While everyone loves to go to the track and sprint some 400s, the real benefits come from running at a slightly lower pace for a much longer time, either through tempo runs or intervals with short rest. Doing copious amounts of work at this intensity will allow you to drastically increase your fitness with a much lower risk for injury.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sep14-20

S: 24,500 yds
B: 7h 54min
R: 6h 29min

Total: 20h 50min

Hmmm... weird week at the office. I had some really good workouts and a couple of pretty awful workouts. Really though, it was a pretty solid week once you account for the trip to Phoenix.

Now, though, its finally time for another race! After 4 races in 5 weeks in July/August, I havent raced since USAT Elite Nationals on August 22nd so I'm looking forward to Augusta 70.3 this weekend. For the first time this year, I'll actually get to drive to a 70.3 and therefore wont have to pack my bike... Hooray!

Friday, September 18, 2009

How far would YOU walk for Chipotle?

So last Friday (9/11) I got an email informing me I’d have to be in Phoenix next Wed (9/16) morning to inspect the electroless Ni plating job on some forward separation bolts. I was a bit busy but eventually got around to getting a flight and hotel and, although the notice was a bit on the short side, figured I was ready to go.

Tuesday rolled around and after getting in a swim and bike in the morning, I was off to the airport for my trek to Phoenix. Get to the airport on time, board the plane, everything is going fairly smoothly. Our departure time was 12:50 but at 1 we were still on the tarmac. Everyone was ready to go, the door was closed, but we were not moving. Then the message comes from the captain, “Ground stop from Atlanta due to thunderstorms. They’re going to give us an update at 1:50, so we’ll let everyone off the plane until then.” This is never a good way to start a trip. However, my connection wasn’t scheduled to take off until 4:45, so I figured I’d still be OK, especially since it would likely be delayed a bit as well.

Around 1:50 we are told we’ve got the go ahead to take off so everyone reboards. However, just as we are ready to pull away from the terminal, another message from the captain: there is some kind of equipment malfunction on a tower between HSV and ATL which is preventing us from taking off. It shouldn’t take too long to fix, so we'll wait in the plane. Another 40 minutes later, it is fixed and we prepare (again) to pull away from the gate. But wait, another ground stop in Atlanta! Apparently the lightning has fired back up and ATL air traffic control wont let us take off.

This time, though, the controllers aren’t sure how long we’ll be grounded so the pilot pulls us back in and allows everyone to deplane. At this point the flight hasn’t been canceled but agents are offering to reschedule people who think they’ll miss their connections and don’t want to spend the night at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Luckily, after only about 20 minutes we are notified the ground stop has been lifted so back onto the plane and off we go. We finally lift off around 3:40, and after an uneventful flight and time change, land in Atlanta at 5:40.

Upon arrival, I realize I’ve missed my connection but find the next plane to Phoenix and head to that gate. Luckily, I’m able to get on that flight and even score and exit row seat. Finally, things are looking up. We take off a bit after 7 EST and are scheduled to arrive in PHX around 8:20 PST. Here is where things get interesting....

The flight goes fine but as I’m heading to the rental car oasis (if you’ve been to PHX, you know what I’m talking about), I realize I forgot to make a reservation. I get to the car island, where 7 companies have desks and every one is out of cars. That’s right, not a single rental car available. Aside from causing a delay, this puts a bit of a wrench in the schedule as it will be kind of hard to drive to a pool or dinner or work, for that matter, without a car. After finding a cab, I get to my hotel and immediately pass out around 9:30 PST (11:30 CST… well past bed time!).

The next morning, without car (no car = no pool), I decide to go for a 40 minute run even though I have a long tempo run later in the day. It would’ve been nice to get the long run out of the way in the morning because it was nice and cool but I was cutting in close as it was WRT time and something was better than nothing. Then it was off to inspect some separation bolts!

Work was fairly uneventful except for lunch. After flying all the way to Phoenix, I was treated to some Famous Dave’s barbeque. The selection included ribs, beef brisquet, chicken, pulled pork, beans with pork, extra creamy coleslaw, corn bread, and chocolate cake with warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The meat was delicious but this is not exactly optimal fuel for the planned long run later in the day.

After work: long run time. Well, longish. ~14 miles with 8 miles at tempo. When I finally got going, I knew it’d be a long workout. Between the lack of humidity (this is the desert, after all…) and the gut-bomb lunch, the run was a slug fest. However, 1h 25min after leaving the hotel parking lot, I was back with a mouth that might as well have been full of cotton swabs and was relieved to be done.

The next thought: dinner. Without a car, this would be no trivial task. The immediate options near the hotel, Denny’s and Marrie Callender’s, were not good. However, when I booked my hotel I checked for a Chipotle in the vicinity (this is standard procedure) and remember thinking there was one really close by. I hadn’t seen it in my time there and after running close to 20 miles on the day I really didn’t feel like walking too far. But I had to check. I put the over/under at 1 mile. Further than that, I was throwing in towel. As I pulled up Chipote.com, the anticipation was killing me. Finally, Google Maps had my answer: 0.9 miles. BAM!

A painstaking long 13 minutes later of brisk walking and I was there. Burrito bowl, chips, and chocolate milk and all was good in the world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sep7-13

S: 25,000 yds
B: 9h 56min
R: 7h 5min

Total: 23h 36min

I had some slightly inflated numbers last week thanks to the holiday last Monday. Other than that, pushing some (relatively) HUGE watts during Thursday's 4min intervals was fun.

This week I'm off to Phoenix again to oversee processing of some Shuttle components. Traveling is always a bit of a pain but at least I'll get to hit up Chipotle while I'm there!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New addition to the HHPTC

No, I didn't add on a bathroom or get a dog. However, my dad got me a gas grill for my birthday... just in time for football season! Although my birthday was a few weeks ago, I only finally finished putting this Char-Broil Commercial Series 500 Four-burner with Sideburner beast together on Saturday.
  • Four burner grill with covered sideburner
  • 50,000 BTU main burners
  • 13,000 BTU sideburner
  • Durable porcelain steel lid and firebox
  • 500 sq in porcelain grates
  • 680 Total sq in cooking area
  • Electronic ignition
  • Improved temperture gauge
  • Front panel
  • 4 Wheels

Needless to say, after finally getting it assembled it has been pretty awesome. The first victims were some beef kabobs on Saturday. I chopped up a red onion and squash from my CSA box and picked up some pre-cut sirloin cubes and grape tomatoes from Publix. After four skewers were full, I threw them on the grill and only a few minutes later they came off, ready to be inhaled.

The fun continued Monday night when I grilled some marinated zucchini, squash, red onions, and chicken. After removing from the grill, I chopped the veggies and chicken and threw them on some romaine lettuce. The salad was finished with some more of the marinade (from the veggies, not the chicken...) as a dressing, grated Parmesan, and some pieces of chopped avocado.

Recipe for the marinade:
2 tbs orange zest
juice from 3 orages
juice from 3 limes
2 tbs honey
2 tbs EVOO
1/4 tsp salt

Its a little a late for summer grilling but still nice in the evenings. And best of all, just in time for football season!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Aug31-Sep6

S: 28,400 yds
B: 5h 50min
R: 6h 13min

Total: 19h 31min

It was another pretty solid week of run training, even if that wasnt exactly evident in the less than stellar 10k time. Or perhaps the quality workouts earlier in the week were a cause of the mediocre race... Either way, the 10km on Saturday morning on Monte Sano was fun. I ran 34:28 on a hilly course which included about 1.5 miles of a sandy trail, so all in all not too bad. I ran with David for the first few miles (well, he ran with me...) then he took off and put about a minute into me on the second 5km. Third place finisher, George DeWitt, was over a minute and a half back from me making the race fairly uneventful. After finishing David and I went for a cool down during which a deluge of water began falling from the sky. Despite the saturation of our shoes, playing in the rain is always a good time.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Aug24-30

S: 25,000 yds
B: 8h 5min
R: 7h 29min

Total: 22h 9min

Coming off Elite Nationals I got back into things right away. Unfortunately a slip up in the sleeping schedule meant a rough couple of days in the middle of the week but I was able to catch up over the weekend thanks in large part to an awesome post pancake nap on Saturday.

It looks like I had around 60 miles of running in 6 days which is getting close to respectable. Hopefully that will translate to some fast finishes in the last few races this season. Speaking of running, this Saturday is the Monte Sano 10k where David will likely jog with me for a little while before romping to a resounding victory.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Todd Williams talk


Last night Puma sponsored a talk at Fleet Feet Huntsville by Todd Williams. For those that don’t know Todd, along with Bob Kennedy, basically was elite distance running in the US in the 90s. For much of the decade, he owned the 10,000 meters on the domestic level, winning 4 US 10,000m titles, two of which were Olympics Trials. He also finished 9th at the 1995 World Cross Country Championship (often considered the most competitive race in the world) and still holds the American record for 15k, 42:22, which he set at the Gate River Run. So needless to say, he has a seriously impressive resume.

While that is all well and good, what I find most impressive was that all of this success was despite the fact that he was not incredibly fast coming out of college. He never won an NCAA title and while his track times were impressive for most (13:44 for 5k, 28:18 for 10k) they certainly weren’t world beaters. However, Todd worked hard in high school, worked hard in college, then continued to work hard post collegiately and kept improving until he was one of the best in the world. Pretty cool if you ask me and just another example that consistent hard work pays huge dividends over time.

Last night he spoke about some of his experiences in high school and it was evident that he is very competitive. The main theme of the talk was that you should always be working towards goal you set for yourself and even if you don’t achieve them, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on continuing improvement. He repeated stressed the importance of hard work and consistency. I particularly liked this as it is what I tell people all the time when they ask how I got fast.

After the talk we went for beers and talked football.

I’ll end with a quote from an excellent interview with Todd from Letsrun.com right after he retired:

“But the training never really changed. I think it was just years and years (added together that was key). I started in 1990 with my hundred mile weeks, and I would run between 85 and 115 miles per week the majority of the year and then I'd cut it down a little before the races. I just ran extremely hard.

As for specific workouts, I think that that's probably a just of waste of time to say. I'd do the 3 times a mile, 16 times a quarter, hard tempos of 30 minutes or longer. You know, the standard workouts.

There's really no magic to it. I was just fortunate enough to stay healthy and push the envelope as hard as I did. I mean even on my off days a lot of times I was probably pushing my threshold.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

USAT Elite National Championship

Well, my first draft legal race is in the books and overall it was a pretty positive experience. It was a lot of fun and I really wish I had the time/resources to do more ITU races.

The race started at the gloriously late time of 2:15 in the afternoon which meant I had all morning to wake up and warm up. Aside from the race start time, race prep and warm up was pretty normal and before I knew it, we were being called to the starting area to be introduced. That was, admittedly, pretty cool.

After a short delay (during which our feet were burning on the hot pontoon) the gun went off and we all dove into the river. After a minute or so, I realized two packs were forming and I was behind both, on the right side of the left pack. The only problem was that the left pack was only a few athletes while the right one contained a much larger group. Additionally, I knew the current would be less closer to the shore (the right group) so I veered off that way. I caught and passed a couple of guys before coming up to someone I thought was swimming a pretty good speed. Unfortunately, at this point I looked up and realized the main pack had already gapped us. So less than 5 minutes into the race and I was already (more or less) out of it. This just affirmed what I thought... I need to get my 200 speed faster. Back to the race, I sat on the aforementioned guy's feet until the last 400 or so when I went outside and sprinted for the finish.

Out on the bike, there were two guys not too far ahead and another coming behind. I chased up to the two and after catching them, the guy behind me caught us. Shortly after, we came to "the hill" the first time and all I wanted to do was make it up. I did, and was happy to still be in the group. I stayed with the pack and we ended up picking up a few people and even dropping a couple of guys. On each lap of the six loop course I just focused on doing whatever I needed to to make it up the hill without getting dropped while also trying to push the pace on the flats. Oh, and trying not to crash. That was a goal as well. All in all, I was surprisingly comfortable on the bike and really just wished I had been in the bigger group that was about 1min 30sec up the road.

Coming off the bike, I was ready to roll. Initially the legs felt OK but by stomach wasnt feeling great. The solution? Ignore it and run faster. Two things stand out about the run: the water bottles and the fan support. We were handed full water bottles rather than cups with water in them and that made drinking a lot easier. The water was also ice cold, which was pleasant on the hot afternoon. The best aspect of the run, though, was the copious amount of friends out on the course. This, along with the 4-lap configuration, meant that I felt like I always had someone yelling at me, which was awesome. I saw a lot of familiar faces out there and the encouragement provided really helped me get through to the finish. So after holding it together and passing a few people for 3 laps, I tried to open it up on the 4th to attempt to reel in 3 guys within a minute in front of me. However, it was a bit too much to ask. I did pick it up a bit but it wasnt much and I think the guys in front had similar thoughts. Having no idea what place I was in, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the announcer state I was crossing the line in 12th place.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This is "Health Food"???


On the front of the Personal Journal section of today's WSJ, there is an article entitled, "High Fiber Foods May Be Easier To Stomach This Time Around." The article overviews how food companies such as General Mills Inc., Kellogs Co., and Danone SA are developing new "high-tech" methods of producing fiber so that they can add it to their packaged foods in order to make them "more healthy." This is being done because fiber is the latest "ingredient de jour" and adding fiber to an otherwise "unhealthy" food all of the sudden make it "healthy." According to the article, "Packaged foods making fiber claims was one of the fastest growing categories in the US in the past year, increasing in unit sales by 10.2% in the 12 months ended Aug. 8th..." Also, "Consumers respond better to positive messages. They feel like they're losing something if you take away the salt, sugar, or fat," says Mary Ellen Camire, a professor at the University of Maine. So the companies are developing new processes to create tasteless, textureless fiber and add it to an unhealthy foods in order to magically transform them into "health" food!

This is just another example of food companies modifying food products to make them more "healthy." Are diets high in fiber good for you? Yes. But I would say that is because most diets high in fiber also contain lots of fruits and veggies, not modified food products with extra fiber (and still all the sodium, sugar, and fat, as mentioned above.) Does this processed fiber added to refined sugar and processed oils really constitute healthy eating? Of course not. But who said advertising had to be truthful?

The article is online, so you can read it if you choose but I'll end with some awesome quotes. Gotta love the oxymorons!

"Consumers are demanding more nutrition from their packaged foods, and food manufacturers hope that adding ingredients such as vitamins and fiber to foods, rather than merely removing unhealthy fat, sodium and sugar, will help stimulate sales."

"New grinding processes helped General Mills better shape fiber particles to reduce grittiness in the newest Fiber One cereals, says John Mendesh, vice president of research and development for the cereals division."

"Ingredient makers have also developed new sources for fiber powders and liquids beyond the traditional wheat and oats. They're extracting fiber from corn, seaweed and roots of herbs such as chicory or using bacteria to synthesize fibers"

"The nice thing of a lot of these [fibers] is, they're kind of easy to sneak into a lot of these products," says Joanne Slavin, a nutrition professor and fiber researcher at the University of Minnesota. Today, "you can make really good white bread and people don't know they're eating fiber."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

QOTD (more on ATTITUDE)

Q: "Does beating everyone in the world except a few guys from east Africa mean anything to you?"

Dathan Ritzenheim: "Well I'd like to beat those guys, too. Craig Mottram used to say, 'I don't want to be known as the best white guy in the world,' and I dont want to think of it that way either."

That quote was from Ritz's interview after he finished 6th place in 10,000m at the World Championships. Ritz, who had just set a ~12 sec PR on a steamy night in Berlin, could've easily looked back on the performance and spoke about how pleased he was with it. Instead though, he spoke about looking ahead, getting better, and taking on the best in the world.

The full interview is below and the above quote is ~ 7:30 in. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aug10-16

S: 25,200 yds
B: 10h 21min
R: 4h 20min

Total: 21h 19min

Swimming last week was, in a word, awful. I was down at the Gaylord National for the DOD Corrosion Conference (fun stuff, I know...) and initially I was looking forward to being able to get in some decent pool time. Before the trip I looked into the pool situation and noticed, according to the hotel's website that one of the amenities was a "Junior Olympic-sized 24-meter lap pool." That sounded pretty awesome and I was looking forward to the fact that I could just head straight down from my room rather than having to drive somewhere and hope Swimmersguide.com was up to date. Well, the pool was there as promised but I think my definition of "lap pool" may be a little different than the Gaylord National's.

The pool was indeed 24m long (or at least as far as I could tell) but it was also only 3.5 feet deep and not exactly optimized for lap swimming. First of all, it lacked gutters and lane ropes making the water choppy at best. It was also missing lane lines but contained plenty of chlorine, making it very difficult to determine where the wall was for a flip turn. The part of course were the days when there were kids in the pool at the same time and I was left wondering whether or not they would decide to walk out in front of me while I was trying to get in a workout. Ahh... the joys of working and training.

In the end, this really just makes me appreciate the Nat that much more.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Huntsville Sprint RR

Saturday morning I raced in the hometown race, the Huntsville Sprint Triathlon, a low key race with a lot of beginners. Starting with a three mile run on a hilly cross country course, followed by a short six mile bike, and concluding with a 400m pool swim, this is a pretty unique race. Although the race is short, the order makes it particularly painful.

My day got off to a rocky start as my front carbon clincher Bontrager Aeolus 6.5 was flat when I tried to inflate it. No worries; I was home and had plenty of spare tubes. After a quick change, I inflated the new tube and thought I was ready to roll. All of the sudden, I heard a loud “BANG!” signally another flat on the tube I had just inflated. “Stupid biking!” I thought. Sick of screwing with tubes and tires, I swapped my race wheel for my training wheel and was finally ready to go.

Arriving at the race, I set up my transition before taking off on a warm up jog. Incidentally, for this race, “setting up my transition” consisted of laying my bike on the ground as there aren’t any bike racks. The of course really just adds to the low key, grass roots feel of the race.

Standing at the starting line, I knew I’d be in for a tough race if I wanted to be the first person across the line. A couple of my training buddies put together a relay team which the race director aptly named, “Beat Hodges.” Considering the fact that the three of them, in the individual sports in which they were competing, can handle me pretty easily, I knew I was pretty much SOL seeing that they’d be fresh for their respective legs and I’d have to do all three.

As the gun went off, David R, my training partner and runner for the “Beat Hodges” team, took off. Behind him a pack of three or four quickly formed which I was a part of. After about half a mile and with the initial sprint wearing off, I moved to the front of our pack to maintain the pace. By the half way point, I had maybe a 5-10 sec cushion over the next guy behind me so I just kept the same effort level through to the finish. Rounding the last turn, I could see David finishing in a bit under 16 minutes. That was the last I saw of team “Beat Hodges.” By the time I crossed the line, the clock was right around 17 and Craig A, their biker, was long gone.

The ride was, as usual, painful. I spent the first half searching for my biking legs after the run but once they finally appeared, I only had a couple of miles left. No complaints here though… the shorter the bike the better!

Off the bike and into the pool, I was feeling pretty good about the win. My main focus was to get my breathing under control and make good flip turns under the lane ropes, as last year I popped up right underneath a few. I had a nice smooth swim and that was that; the race was seemingly over as soon as it had started.

Team "Beat Hodges" (David R, Craig A, and John K) and me

After the race it was great to hang out with friends and see so many first time finishers. Although the race was relatively short for me, for a lot of people this was their first experience with triathlon and it was really cool to see them finish. The weather was awesome and everyone I talked to had a great time so hopefully the race can get bigger in years to come.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aug3-9

S: 32,500 yds
B: 11h 26min
R: 3h 8min

Total: 23h 7min

And there it is, the week by the numbers.

On tap for this week is a trip to DC for the NACE DoD Corrosion Conference Monday through Thursday before the hometown race, the Huntsville Sprint Triathlon, on Saturday.

Mtn Lakes RR

On Saturday morning I headed over to Lake Guntersville for the Mountain Lakes Triathlon. Like the Music City Tri a couple of weeks ago, this was another Team Magic race with a $1700 prize purse. The differences were that this is a sprint and it is located a little closer to home. Close enough that I actually got to sleep in my own bed the night before.

As usual in the Team Magic races, a TT start was on tap for this morning. Unlike last year though, Timex teammate and uber swimmer Bruce Gennari was starting ahead of my rather than behind. He has won this race a few times in the past so my main focus was to try to catch him before the finish and hold off others from behind.

The college kids went off first so Bruce at #38 was one of the first non-collegiates to start. About 20 seconds later I barreled into the water wearing #44. After navigating around some of the college kids I came out the lake and sprinted into T1, hoping to at least catch a glimpse of Bruce. He was exiting as I was entering so I was pleased that I had mitigated the damage on the swim.

Out on the bike I just wanted to keep it close. After passing the last of the college kids and fast swimmers, I could occasionally see Bruce up ahead on the long stretches of the road. Nearing the end of the bike, a couple people caught and passed me. The first, Jay McCurdy, was #42, so I knew all I had to do was out run him for the win. The second guy caught me with about half a mile to go but he was #70, meaning I’d have to put some time into him on the run to make sure I had a enough of a cushion to cover the starting time gap.

After a quick T2, Jay and I were out on the run with #70, Joseph Welch, a bit behind. I passed Jay about at about the ¾ of a mile mark and set my sights on Bruce. By about mile 1.25 I had reeled him in, giving him a nice slap on the ass for his efforts. My only worry now was the aforementioned #70. The run was an out and back so I got a check on the gap and it appeared I’d be OK. Of course you never know. I wasn’t feeling particularly great on the run but maintained my pace and hoped it would be good enough for the win.

After finishing, I waited for a couple of minutes for #70 to cross the line and after some quick math, realized I had probably held on for the 'W'. Sure enough, I was first while Jay barely held off Joe to take 2nd. Too bad they didn’t start together… it would’ve been an awesome finish!

Full results can be found here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

In Defense of Food


A couple of weeks ago I read In Defense of Food by Micheal Pollan. The main theme of the book is that the typical American’s diet (the Western Diet), and more importantly the way Americans get their calories is inherently flawed. A combination of misguided government policies, strong lobbying from the food industry, and societal changes in how food is consumed have led to a system which produces mass quantities of low quality food at an incredibly inexpensive price. The problem is that this system is making Americans unhealthy by increasing rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The chief government policies which have brought about this problem are the huge subsidies paid to farmers to grow corn, wheat, soybeans, and rice. Of those, corn is king, receiving over 60% of the money provided by the government for farm subsidies in 2004. Farmers of fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, receive no subsidy from the government. This makes highly refined sugars (high fructose corn syrup), vegetable oils (corn, soybean), and a myriad of processed foods relatively cheap in comparison to other real foods.

Because these products are so cheap, food producing companies can take them, add a bit of artificial flavoring, and turn them into a wide array of different food products. As an added bonus, they can also add vitamins and minerals and tout their nutritional qualities. This approach is brilliant from a business point of view because the food products can be modified to include the vitamin/mineral/nutrient de jour with only a slight modification to the manufacturing process.

Finally, too many people just look at food as fuel rather than enjoying what it is: food. In our culture, a large number of people eat on the go rather than sit down and enjoy a meal. Additionally, “healthy” somehow means processed, low fat substitutes with lots of added vitamins and nutrients rather than real food. This fits conveniently into the “on the go” lifestyle most Americans are accustomed to.

The result of the combination of these market forces and cultural norms is a diet that is high in processed carbohydrates and refined oils but remarkably bland. As a result, most Americans end up eating too quickly, getting hungry again, and eating more. This is accompanied by huge swings in insulin production and an increased caloric intake. Making matters worse, a huge number of these calories are derived the aforementioned subsidized products, resulting in very little variety in most peoples’ diets.

Pollan goes on to give further evidence of why this diet is so bad but he didn’t have to convince me. Finally, he finishes by providing four basic guidelines to follow, all of which I found very sensible. Overall Pollan does a good job of summarizing the various forces involved with most Americans’ relationship with food and the effects of that relationship on their health.

Of course I picked a bad time to read this with the health care debate heating up. Then, last week, it was reported that health care costs in 2008 due to obesity (diabetes and heart disease) were a staggering $147 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a b. Congress is looking for ways to cut costs across the system but while diet and exercise are occasionally mentioned as partial solutions, they are often scoffed a “drop in the bucket.” That, or they are attacked because, “the government shouldn’t be able to tell me that I cant eat a cheeseburger!”

The problem, of course, is the government, through their aforementioned subsidies, is making that cheeseburger, fries, and coke, unreasonably cheap and not holding anyone accountable for eating it. Americans pay less for food per person than all other civilized nations yet we are more overweight. Part of the solution to health care (in addition to changing the award structure to reward effective doctors rather than those who do prescribe the most procedures) is to rethink the entire food chain and give people incentives to eat more real foods. The easiest way to do this would be to lower corn subsidies, making real food more competitive and unhealthy, processed foods more expensive, driving more people to choose real foods.

Sadly though, none of this will happen. First of all, very few senators and congressmen/congresswomen are willing to even push for personal health accountability because a large number of their constituents are fat. Even they were, the agricultural lobby would block such a notion in a heartbeat. If they can convince people that taxpayers should pay them to grow corn in order to fuel for our cars, there is no hope for a policy that will raise the price of the food that makes up the majority of most Americans’ diets.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jul27-Aug2

S: 28,900 yds
B: 9h 1min
R: 4h 53min

Total: 21h 30min

The week, by the numbers. This Saturday I'll be racing the Mountian Lakes Triathlon at beautiful Lake Guntersville. With a lot of friends racing, it should be fun!

Friday, July 31, 2009

QOTD

"I wore them for about a month, and my station crew members never complained!" -Koichi Wakata, in reference to the bacteria-killing, water-absorbing Japanese underwear designed to be worn in space for weeks which he tested.

Thats right, not only was this guy stuck on the ISS for 4.5 months but he wasnt even allowed to change his briefs for a month!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jul20-26

S: 32,300 yds
B: 7h 13min
R: 4h 34min

Total: 20h 17min

Pretty nice little week capped off by the race on Sunday. Looking back, I really need to find more shorter races to do as the race was easier and a LOT more fun than the usual Sunday long ride and transition run.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Music City Triathlon RR

This weekend I headed up to Nashville for the Music City Triathlon. It was a good opportunity to hang out with Paulo while also getting in a solid effort with friends. Coming into it off a pretty hard week I wasnt sure how it was going to turn out. Regardless, I was still looking forward to the race as after having only raced 70.3s this year, I was ready for the Olympic Distance.

Swim (20:34, 3rd): With the TT start I was the 4th to jump in the river and immediately tried to catch one of the two guys in front of me, as I knew catching teammate "First Out of the Water" Bruce Gennari (who started first) would be all but impossible. Unfortunately they both swam away from me pretty quickly initially but about a third of the way through I finally caught one. No one from behind caught me so I exited the swim in 3rd.

Bike (1:02:19 including T1 + T2, 2nd): I felt a little sluggish at the beginning but after passing the 2nd place guy around mile 4, I finally got into my grove around mile 8 or so. The bike was a two lap out and back course so by this time we had gone through the first turnaround and I noticed Bruce was about a minute ahead of me. I had heard he was about 50 sec up out of the water, so I figured we were riding about the same speed. Coming back into transition, Paulo alerted me Bruce was about 50 sec ahead, so I figured we were riding about the same pace. I felt a lot better on the second lap and really tried to focus and lessen the time gap to Bruce. With about a mile to go, I sped past Bruce but as I went by I heard, "Got a flat." Always a bummer.

Run (34:45, 2nd): Heading out on the run, I felt fine but was still worried (due to the TT start) that maybe I wasnt actually in first place. I ran the first lap of the run alone and and then Paulo gave me time gaps to a couple of people both of which were fairly substancial. At that point I was feeling pretty confident about the win so I cruised the second lap and that was that.

Still a little worried, I was relieved when the RD finally announced the OA awards. All in all, this was a really cool race. The start and finish was at LP Field (where the Titans play) and the run course cut through downtown Nashville which provided a cool urban setting.

Results can be found here

Thursday, July 23, 2009

All intensity, all the time

With the new training block, there is certainly no shortage of speed. Tuesday was a Zn4/Zn5 ride while Wednesday night I hit the track for the first time in who knows how long (maybe a year?!) for some fast (Zn4/Zn5) running. Thursday night? You guessed it, bike ride and run, both with some quality Zn4/Zn5 time! I made it through T and W pretty well but after after sprinting around the track with David R, I was feeling it on Thursday.

So yeah... we'll see how this race on Sunday, the Music City Triathlon, pans out. With a long run tonight and 3 workouts tomorrow, it should be interesting. At least the venue will be nice. Team Magic moved the race to downtown Nashville so it will be fun to run and ride through the middle of the city. Unfortunately, because this is a Team Magic race, it will be a time trial start, which is probably the dumbest thing ever. Seriously... what is the point having a race, if you're going to stagger everyone's starting times? That is not a race. They might as well just have everyone do a 1500m swim + 40k bike + 10k run at home and send in their times...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jul13-19

S: 18,800 yds
B: 8h 5min
R: 4h 21 min

Total: 17h 23min

The week got off to a nice easy start as I had a few days of recovery after RI 70.3. Conveniently, this coincided with a trip to Phoenix for work so it was nice to not have to worry about getting in any serious training while I was out there. I went for an easy run and found a YMCA where I could swim but overall I kept it pretty low key.

Upon my arrival back to Huntsville however it was back to work. It was time for a new training block and Paulo has decided to up the intensity a bit with the result being loads of Zn4 and Zn5 time in the near future. Should be fun!

Up for this weekend: The Music City Triathlon in Nashville.

Monday, July 20, 2009

QOTD

"I just try to worry about beating people instead of worrying about time. And if I worry about competing against these guys, time will always be good." -Matt Tegenkamp after his 13:07 season opening 5k in Europe.

When asked about competing with the Kenyans Teg says, "You have to be confident in your training... Its a progression. You have to worry about stacking year after year after year together."

Matthew Tegenkamp sets A-standard 13:07.47 in Heusden from Losse Veter on Vimeo.

Monday, July 13, 2009

RI 70.3 RR

Thanks to a ridiculously early 6AM start time, I was up at 3 AM (2 Central!) for the usual pre-race breakfast. It had been raining all night and continued as I ate. While the precipitation had ceased by the time we arrived to the race site, there was still an ominous feel in the chilly air as the landscape was marred by dark clouds and a choppy ocean. Arriving at my bike, I immediately got to work wiping it down in order to affix my gels. After more rushing and prepping for the logistical hassle of having the finish line 50 miles from the start of the race, I was ready to pull on the wetsuit and get head to the start.

At this point, the first of what would be a number of delays came over the loudspeakers; the race would be delayed 15 minutes while the buoys were reset. While I don’t think anyone really minded having a few more minutes before the start, the fact that the race staff was having trouble keeping the buoys in place was indicative of the level of chop in the water.

Eventually they corralled all the pros at the start and were finally ready to get the race underway sometime around 6:30. Before I knew it, we were off! My start was less than stellar. After only a couple of strides in the water I went down hard although I’m still not really sure why. The water level was still low at that point so it was a bit baffling. This left me playing catch up less than a minute into the race. Once everyone was swimming I swam through quite a few people before finally settling with a couple others I couldn’t drop. The water was fairly chopping but the swells were fairly regular so I enjoyed the challenge of trying to maintain a decent stroke.

After getting through T1, it was out onto the bike. Still overcast, the ride was chilly. Right off the bat Lovato came flying by me but I had no chance of staying with him. After that though, I passed Lisska, rode alone for a while then passed another dude and a cramping Cotter around mile 20. I continued on alone until around mile 45 when I was passed by Evoe, Frank, and another guy. I tried to match their pace but just couldn’t respond. Although I was upset about not being able to stay with them, I was hopeful I could ride hard to the finish and catch them on the run.

Coming off the bike I set out to catch the three ahead of me knowing I had plenty of time to run them down. I caught the first guy a little after mile 5 and was still feeling good. Coming through the halfway mark, I was ready to open it up the second half of the run and catch the other two. I kept the pace on and finally reeled in Evoe right after the turn and then Frank around mile 9. Unfortunately, that’s when then wheels came off. I blew up like a champ allowing Frank and Evoe to both re-pass me as I shuffled home the last few miles to a 7th place finish.

The details:
Swim: 23:47
Bike: 2:18:34
Run: 1:19:59
Total: 4:04:10

Next up: Music City Triathlon in Nashville on 7/24 then Steelhead 70.3 on 8/1

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Taper Time and Summer Fun

With RI 70.3 this weekend, it has been taper time this week. I was all excited to "only" have a 2.5h ride + 30min run last Saturday but then for some really felt pretty worn down at the beginning of this week. However, after a few nights of getting to bed early I'm looking forward to the race this weekend.

With the shorter workouts last weekend I had plenty of time to enjoy the holiday. Saturday, being the 4th of July, provided a great excuse to hang out at the pool and enjoy the spectacular weather. In particular, I went up to a cookout up at the Monte Sano Pool to feast on some pulled pork (for the second week in a row), coleslaw, black eyed peas, and beer. Here are some pictures.... if this isnt Americana at its best, I dont know what is...


I swear it was a coincidence that I took this picture while there was a guy riding by on some kind of personal cart. Alabama is AWESOME.


Its Miller Time!


Summer fun at the pool. Wish I was a kid again!


Sarah and me with the band in the background.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Jun29-Jul5

S: 26,400 yds
B: 6h 52min
R: 4h 25min

Total: 18h 14min

Overall a suspiciously lighter week on the training front which made me wonder if there was something wrong with Paulo as this is a bit out of the ordinary. After a bit of pondering though, it didnt take me long to figure it out: Paulo is getting soft.

Let me explain... last weekend I had a housewarming party here at the HHPTC which Paulo drove down to attend. At the gathering there was a plethora food, the highlight of which was Greg's pulled pork, pictured below.


Indeed, even Paulo, the self-proclaimed bacon hater, couldnt get enough. Pictured below is sandwich #3, but who's keeping count?